WASHINGTON -- Friday's federal judge ordered that the founder of Oath Keepers was charged with seditious conspiration in connection to the Jan. 6th riot. He found there were no conditions for release that could ensure public safety.
Elmer Stewart Rhodes II was arrested last month along with 10 others. Federal prosecutors claimed that Rhodes was involved in the formation of "quick response forces" (QRFs), outside Washington, D.C., which were ready to enter the capital upon Rhodes' command on Jan. 6.
Rhodes' lawyers argued that he did not order the armed men to DC because President Donald Trump didn't invoke the Insurrection Act. Rhodes believed this would have allowed Oath Keepers the opportunity to assist Trump in securing the capital to keep his power.
Judge Amit Mehta stated that Rhodes' alleged conduct is "unpreventable," adding that detention was justified due to the danger posed by the alleged conduct.
Although Rhodes' lawyers suggested that Rhodes be allowed to stay with his cousin in California and her husband there, a pretrial service officer stated that Rhodes' cousin and husband were not suitable custodians.
Mehta stated that the lead charge in seditious conspiracies is not "merely one of obstruction an official proceeding", which is a felony other Jan. 6 defendants have been facing -- and that Rhodes was accused of plotting to stop the lawful transfer by force of presidential power. He said that Rhodes was alleged to have "deputies" working under him in the alleged conspiracy, which he claimed included at least 10 other people.
Mehta called Rhodes' evidence "compelling" and stated that Rhodes' words were not just about speech. They were also about action. The judge stated, "If anyone believes this is about speech they are wrong."
Mehta said that Rhodes had organized QRFs to bring weapons into DC, which was "very concerning", even though there is no evidence that Oath Keepers brought weapons into Washington.
Rhodes bought a variety of weapons and spoke about preparing to "walk on the Founders’ path." Mehta stated that this was a call for arms.
The hearing for Rhodes was held remotely and was delayed due to a power outage at his facility. The hearing started at 1 p.m. ET. ET, and resumed at 5:05 p.m.
While in custody following his arrest, Rhodes testified to the House Jan. 6 committee.